Study objective: To describe the clinical, radiographic, and autopsy features of AIDS-related non-Hodgkin's Iymphoma (NHL) with pulmonary involvement.
Design: Retrospective series of patients with HIV infection and NHL with pathologically documented lung or pleural involvement.
Setting: A university and a county hospital in San Francisco.
Patients: Thirty-eight patients with HIV infection and NHL involving the lungs or pleura.
Results: Most patients had respiratory symptoms (87%) and signs (84%). The majority of patients had advanced HIV infection, with a mean CD4 count of 67 (+/- 65). The most common laboratory abnormalities were elevated lactate dehydrogenase value (89%), elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (94%), hematologic abnormalities (95%), and widened alveolar-arterial gradient (89%). Thoracic CT revealed pulmonary nodules (50%), lobar infiltrates (27%), and lung mass (19%) as the most common parenchymal abnormalities. Pleural effusion (68%) and thoracic lymphadenopathy (54%) were unexpectedly common. Autopsy confirmed the high prevalence of pulmonary nodules (30%), airspace disease (35%), and lung mass (25%). Pleural effusions (65%) and thoracic lymphadenopathy (60%) were also common at autopsy. The respiratory system was the most common extranodal site (71%) in patients with AIDS-related NHL undergoing autopsy. Of the bronchoscopic procedures performed, transbronchial biopsy had the highest diagnostic yield (58%) for lymphoma. BAL and bronchial brushing were never diagnostic. Pleural fluid cytologic study and open lung biopsy specimens also had high diagnostic yields (75% each).
Conclusions: The lung is a common extranodal site in AIDS-related NHL. NHL with pulmonary involvement occurs primarily in patients with advanced HIV infection. Most patients have nodules, infiltrates, or masses by thoracic imaging and autopsy. Thoracic lymphadenopathy is much more common than previously believed. Transbronchial biopsy, pleural fluid cytologic study, and open lung biopsy are the most useful diagnostic procedures.